21 Oct Local Search 101: Putting Your Business on the Map
By now you know that it’s important for your business’s website to be search engine optimized. However, if you have a defined service area, you can go beyond typical SEO to increase your visibility within that area. Utilizing methods for local SEO can be beneficial for any business with a physical location that serves a certain geographic area—and focusing on a local SEO strategy is crucial. As of February 2020, 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information, and “near me” or “close by” searches have grown by 900% in the last two years (source). These searches are driving conversions—in fact, 78% of local smartphone searches result in an offline purchase. With COVID-19 bringing about a renewed desire to support local businesses, the importance of being optimized for local search is only going to continue to grow.
If it sounds like local search may be a good fit for your business, the next step is understanding the algorithm search engines use for local queries. This algorithm is comprised of three factors: relevance, proximity, and prominence.
The first signal for local search queries is relevance. In essence, does your website offer what the query is looking for? Relevance is a factor for both standard and local SEO in a similar way because the focus is on keywords. To ensure that Google understands how to categorize your site, be sure that your content reflects the keywords you want to target—and then add the local search element by adding your physical address and service region. For example, if you own an outdoor gear store, you want to include content with “camping,” “hiking,” and similar words, as well as have your address listed. You could even go a step further by having information about hiking trails or campgrounds in the area.
Here are some other ways to solidify your relevance signal:
– On Google My Business (GMB), select multiple business categories and add a business description.
– On your site, be sure your metadata, alt tags, and other backend components have those local keywords included as well.
Once the search engine determines that you offer relevant information, it will look to see how close you are to where the inquiry was performed. This can be large scale. For instance, a “dentists near me” query from Ohio won’t call up Tennessee dentists. More often, though, it operates on a smaller scale. The query “dentists near me” may return different results with even a two-mile difference in searcher location based on what is nearby. Proximity is determined using your physical address. For this reason, it’s important to confirm that your citations—your business name, address, and phone number—appear accurately and consistently across the web.
Here are some other ways to solidify your proximity signal:
– On GMB, update your service area to include both the zip code you are in and the ones from which you want to draw customers.
– For social media, update your service area, address, and phone number to reflect information consistent with your website.
– On your site, consider embedding an interactive Google Map to your “Contact” or “About” page.
The final local search signal, and the toughest to master, is prominence. Prominence is the indication of how well your brand stands out from others in your industry. Gaining prominence means building trust and credibility with the search engines. One major standard of prominence is your online reputation, as measured by reviews. Ask yourself; are you more likely to trust the opinion of 5 reviews or 50? The chances are, you’d pick the latter. But search engines aren’t just looking for quantity—they’re concerned with quality as well.
The goal is to have a large number (15+ is a good start) of reviews averaging 4 stars or higher. Begin by asking all your customers to leave you a review at the end of their service, promoting review platforms on social media, and responding to every review you receive (even the negative ones). The better your online reputation, the more prominence your business gains.
Besides engaging in reputation management, garnering prominence is a long game. Continue to provide high-quality products with good customer service and you’ll begin to see your credibility build.
Let’s Talk Local
The local SEO algorithm is complex, but understanding how it works can be incredibly beneficial to your brick-and-mortar business, particularly if you’re in a highly competitive industry. The experts at Media Venue can help you craft a local search strategy to get you on the map and help drive on- and off-line conversions from your area. Ready to get started? Contact our SEO and Content Manager Sarah Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-855-4789 today. Enhance your marketing investment with Media Venue!
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About Our Blogger
Sarah Kelley is the newest member of the Media Venue team and brings with her a wealth of insight. Her specialty is using SEO best practices to cultivate your business’s online presence. Her in-depth knowledge of website content and design allow her to constantly implement new and effective practices in her work.